Volume 8, Number 4, December 2002
Copyright © 2002 Society for Music Theory

Olli Väisälä*

Review of Timothy L. Jackson and Veijo Murtomäki, eds., Sibelius Studies. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). 397 pages.

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[1] The Janus-faced Sibelius

[2] Jackson's Enterprise: Bold Promises--Shaky Groundwork

[3] Excursion: Salience and Stability in Schumann's Fantasy op. 17
[4] Limits of Prolongational Thinking?

[5] Considerations of Multikey Schemes

[6] Laufer's Case Study: Inspiration and Realism

[7] Aspects of Modernism


The Janus-faced Sibelius

[1] As discussed in the Preface of Sibelius Studies, the reception of Jean Sibelius's music has been marked by a curious dichotomy. By and large, musicians, the musical public (with certain geographical limitations), and the recording industry have enthusiastically promoted its cause, while "academics outside Finland have taken Sibelius seriously only recently" (xv). The most famous or infamous epitome of the "academical" scorn for Sibelius, Theodor Adorno's "Glosse über Sibelius," is quoted once again in the Preface. And certainly, in view of his formidable intellectual influence, a reference to Adorno at the outset of a Sibelius book is still in order as an aid to identifying those aspects of Sibelius's music that have led to the "academic" prejudices against it--even if the level of musical penetration in a casual attack such as "Glosse" is hardly adequate for meriting a lasting influence.

[2] The present anthology testifies to a change of attitudes among "academics." Of its twelve contributors, seven are North Americans and Britons whereas five are Finns. The essays treat Sibelius's music from widely variable angles, but, significantly, the majority of them make use of modern analytical techniques, being thus willing to address Adorno's charge of the inadequate "state of musical material" directly by the close examination of that material. Schenkerian-oriented approaches are well represented. This is quite appropriate since an important aspect of Sibelius's art is his relationship with the past, his position as one of the last representatives of the great tonal tradition. Moreover, whereas the surface of Sibelius's music made the impression of "senseless juxtaposition" in Adorno, Schenkerian reductions--if competently performed--are able to offer demonstration of precisely those "standards of musical quality" that Adorno cherished, "the richness of inter-connectedness" and "unity in diversity," as being amply present beneath the sometimes fragmentary surface (xviii-xix). But the ability to exploit the large-scale potential of the tonal system is only one facet of Sibelius's accomplishment. Whereas Adorno charged Sibelius both with the defective command of traditional techniques and with the failure to keep in touch with later advances, both charges may be contested by analytical examination. With reason the editors speak of a "combination of progressive and conservative aspects" in Sibelius's "Janus-faced" music (xv); the advanced "state of musical material" is also evident in aspects reflecting contemporary modernistic trends and even pointing to the future. In this review, I concentrate on the analytical and theoretical perspectives brought up in Sibelius Studies, treating first the essays involving Schenkerian methods and proceeding then to discuss the more "progressive" aspects in Sibelius's music and their treatment in the present anthology.

Jackson's Enterprise: Bold Promises--Shaky Groundwork

[3] Since the largest space by far in the collection--100 pages, more than twice the size of the second largest paper--has been allotted to a contribution by one of the editors, Timothy L. Jackson, it is appropriate to begin by commenting on his essay, "Observations on crystallization and entropy in the music of Sibelius and other composers." In conformance with its size, the scope of the analytical perspectives brought up in this article is impressive. Instead of merely presenting voice-leading reductions of individual movements, Jackson addresses such broader topics as inter-movement organization, historical evolution within a compositional genre, and the relationship between musical organization and extra-musical or programmatic significance--important issues Schenkerians are sometimes charged with neglecting. To illuminate such broad perspectives, Jackson presents analytical graphs of over twenty compositions by various composers--less than half by Sibelius. The present essay may be viewed as a part of a larger project; some of its material has been presented in Jackson's previous publications.

[4] Jackson writes grippingly and colorfully, making conclusions that seem exciting and, for the most part, logically supported by the analytical graphs. Indeed, at first sight one may get the impression of Jackson's enterprise as one of the most interesting in the field of analytical research. However, the first and most crucial requirement for any kind of analytical conclusion is that the relationship between the basic analytical entities, such as voice-leading graphs, and the actual compositions be cogent and meaningful. It is with this issue that Jackson's article has its greatest problems, problems whose quantity and gravity seriously detract from the cogency of his project. While his terminology is conventionally Schenkerian, Jackson's readings are frequently in blatant contradiction with any normal analytical criteria based on the well-established principles of tonal syntax. Characteristically, moreover, he does little to explicate the grounds even for his most peculiar-looking interpretations, and the reader's efforts to trace implicit grounds yield no consistent result.

[5] A central notion in Jackson's essay is that of auxiliary cadence. Of special significance is the "over-arching" type of auxiliary cadence, in which the "definitive tonic arrival" or "DTA" only occurs towards the end of a movement or composition (177, 187-8). The auxiliary cadence serves as a metaphor of crystallization (189)--a concept with evident programmatic potential. As a special theoretical innovation Jackson sets forth the concept of "tonic" auxiliary cadence (188-9). This notion (the apparent contradiction in which Jackson readily acknowledges) refers to a situation in which an initial firm root-position tonic is "devalued and subsumed--in light of subsequent events--within the 'p' [pre-cadential chord] of an auxiliary cadence" to some other scale degree (189). This other scale degree may then function in another auxiliary cadence directed towards the "DTA," occurring later in the work.

[6] The temporal perspectives evoked by the notion of "tonic" auxiliary cadence are certainly interesting. There is no denying that a significant part of our musical experience is the sense in which the impressions of structural relationships change over the course of musical time. And by no means is the opening harmony devoid of the possibility of being retrospectively reinterpreted or "devalued"--even if it eventually turns out to be the same chord as the functional tonic. Example 1 illustrates. Consider the abstract bass lines in its top stave and possible impressions at time-points (1), (2), and (3). Even if the initial C makes the impression of being the tonic at time-point (1), under certain circumstances we may experience it as subordinate to another scale degree (IV or bVI) at time-point (2). Moreover, even if we understand C as the tonic once again at time-point (3), it is not implausible that there might be circumstances that support no connection between the first and the second C. Under such circumstances, there would be justification for preferring the readings in Example 1b, in which a "tonic" auxiliary cadence is linked with a structurally superior auxiliary cadence, to the more commonplace readings in Example 1a.(1)

[7] Despite the interest of such temporal perspectives, one should not lose sight of the fact that the readings in Example 1b do require special circumstances. In what is probably a great majority of cases, occurrences of the bass lines in question give little support for perceiving the harmony at (2)--even momentarily--as the tonic or structurally superior in relation to (1). If the notion of "tonic" auxiliary cadence is to have any descriptive power, it cannot be applied indiscriminately to all instances of such bass lines. This point may appear self-evident, but making it seems necessary since Jackson's examples do so little to clarify what kind of conditions he actually posits for the occurrence of a "tonic" auxiliary cadence.

[8] Example 2 reproduces relevant parts of Jackson's first exemplar of this notion, the finale of Beethoven's 7th Symphony (his Ex. 8.6). The graph appears ambiguous as regards the relative priority of the A in m. 12 and the F in m. 198 (an ambiguity perhaps intended to reflect shifting temporal perspectives).(2) Verbally, however, Jackson asserts clearly that "the tonic […] is reinterpreted as the 'upper third' of F, more specifically as the mediant in a III#3-V-I (A-C-F) auxiliary cadence in the key of the flat submediant, F major" (201); hence, the reading is similar to Example 1b:ii. The A-C-F progression is repeated in mm. 231-321 and the "definitive tonic" only arrives in m. 451.

[9] In his discussion of the 'tonic' auxiliary cadence, Jackson explains that the identification of this phenomenon "depends entirely upon context" and offers two clues suggesting that an opening tonic is not "DTA" (200). The first of these is "provided by design if its main thematic material is deferred." The second is the occurrence of the tonic "in the wrong mode, minor instead of major or vice versa." Leaving aside for the moment considerations of the validity of these clues in tracing prolongational relationships, it may be observed that his first exemplar is supported by neither clue. The tonic is, of course, major right from the start (m. 12), and it is also difficult to see how the thematic design would speak for m. 451 as the "definitive tonic arrival" or "crystallization." Jackson calls attention to the "tremendous weight on the dominant at the beginning of the primary theme (mm. 1-12), while the tonic resolution in m. 12 is relatively 'weakened,' almost perfunctory" (201). He fails to mention, however, that the prevalence of the A major tonic continues in a straightforward manner in mm. 20-40, supporting material whose "definitiveness" hardly falls behind that of his "DTA" in m. 451. In fact, the material in 451 ff. repeats that in mm. 36 ff.

[10] If the A major tonic in m. 12 and m. 20 ff. seems powerful and straightforward enough to strongly suggest (to say the least) a "definitive arrival," an even more puzzling aspect in Jackson's analysis is the notion of the F in m. 198 as the goal tonic in an A-C-F cadence. One would imagine that overriding the A as a tonic would presuppose rather extreme means to direct the tonal focus toward F. In the Beethoven, however, one finds no elements whatsoever to suggest a tonicization of F major at its appearance or in the events leading to it (whereas the preceding C is amply tonicized). Moreover, aspects such as orchestration and dynamics clarify the character of F as a surprise digression from the main progression C-E; the F supports a pianissimo woodwind episode (mm. 198-219) that humorously foreshadows the fortissimo return of the main theme on E. All in all, the actual musical circumstances offer no substantiation even for a V-I relationship between the C and the F (in the manner of Example 1a:ii2), let alone for viewing the opening A as the III#3 of F--an inherently more distant relationship which would require still stronger contextual support. Instead of "depending entirely upon context," Jackson's analysis would appear to be based on a purely abstract contemplation of the A-C-F bass notes and on totally ignoring their context. By such criteria, it is hard to see how any progression away from the tonic could fail to constitute a "tonic" auxiliary cadence. (Indeed, I find it less counterintuitive to interpret any traditional I-II#3-V modulation as "devaluing" the tonic as the IV in a IV-V-I cadence to the dominant; this, after all, is tonicized at one point.)

[11] This example, unfortunately, is not exceptional in its questionable reading of basic tonal relationships; the second A-C-F "cadence," spanning mm. 231-321, is by no means more plausible. For an example from another composition, consider the last movement of Schumann's Fantasy op. 17, in which Jackson views the opening C major as initiating a "III-(#V)-I" auxiliary cadence in Ab major (205-7, Ex. 8.8). Now it seems questionable indeed whether a "#V" can function as a cadential dominant under any circumstances. But even if we grant such a strange possibility, it seems mystifying why we should see such a relationship between the "#V," the E major chord in m. 10 (repeated in m. 12), and the "I," the Ab chord in m. 30, in the Schumann. The long stretch of material separating these harmonies neither prolongs E major nor directs the focus to Ab major but contains a powerful and fairly straightforward prolongation of the dominant of the main key C major (mm. 15-29). Jackson, characteristically, does not discuss at all the problem with "#V"--though the parentheses around it in his text (but not graph) might be understood as some kind of a precautionary step against taking it too seriously.

Excursion: Salience and Stability in Schumann's Fantasy op. 17

[12] These examples might suffice to give an idea of the quality of Jackson's "Observations," in general, and of the shaky groundwork of his key concept, the "tonic" auxiliary cadence, in particular. However, an excursion to one further, especially interesting example, the first movement of Schumann's Fantasy, will help to bring up some notions of general relevance for analysis. Example 3 reproduces Jackson's overview of this movement (his Ex. 8.2a). This reading, too, contains a tonic devaluation: the C minor of the middle Im Legendenton section is conceived as the upper fifth in a huge subdominant prolongation spanning mm. 29-225. This time the clue given by modal mixture ("minor instead of major") is certainly present. But, according to Jackson, an "even more compelling" indication of the structural relationships is "the initiation of the recapitulation on the same II6/5/b3 or IVb3 with added sixth (m. 225) as in the exposition (m. 29), suggesting that this chord, as a neighbor to the prolonged V rather than the intervening C minor chord, acquires fundamental significance" (193-4). The problem with the dissonance of this chord is not dealt with. In reference to Fred Lerdahl's notions of stability and salience conditions as structural determinants, it appears that Jackson regards the salient return of a harmony as a "compelling" evidence of a structural connection, with no concern for the conditions of harmonic stability--which include (in Joseph Straus's terms) the consonance-dissonance condition and the scale-degree condition.(3) That salience conditions may under some circumstances override stability conditions in conventional tonality is, in my view, a perfectly plausible proposition. However, if there is such an unstated proposition underlying Jackson's analysis, it is applied in a most inconsistent way. In the Fantasy, the chord on F in m. 29 is not the most likely candidate for a dissonant harmony elevated to structural significance through salience.

[13] One might remark that if the chord in question is understood as a "IVb3 with added sixth," the fifth, C, is not actually the dissonant element in it. However, consideration of the context in which it occurs speaks clearly against such an interpretation; see Example 4. C is resolved to Bb as its appoggiatura immediately in the subsequent measure (30), echoing several previous C- B-natural resolutions (the last of which is shown in Example 4, m. 28). This produces a V4/3 of Eb major, which, after turning to 6/5, is quite regularly resolved in m. 33. This tonicized Eb--which, incidentally, is an important key in the later course of the Fantasy--shows itself nowhere in Jackson's more detailed graph, reproduced in Example 5a (his Ex. 8.2b).(4) Instead, there is a C (m. 34)--picked, for some reason, from the midst of a sequential bass line Eb-C-A-F# (mm. 33-36).(5)

[14] Example 5b is a provisional sketch demonstrating that the first section (exposition) of the Fantasy does lend itself to an interpretation better justified by the combination of stability and salience. It contains one very significant exception to the consonance-dissonance condition since it views the opening V9/7 as prolonged throughout. Comparing this ninth chord with the chord on F (m. 29), it may be noted, first of all, that its salience in the Fantasy is certainly still much greater; hence the salience criterion would not speak for regarding the return of the V9/7 in m. 98 as "not yet structural dominant," as in Jackson's analysis (Example 3). What is even more important is that whereas the chord on F (the 4/3, to be precise) is quite normally resolved in m. 33 (Example 4) there is no equally satisfactory resolution for the V9/7 in mm. 1-28. One might hear suggestions of a 9-8 resolution in mm. 24-25 and 26-27 but they are not registrally clarified; in addition, the seventh is constantly present until m. 28. Further, the 9b/7 chord in m. 28, which would appear to be connected with the preceding 9/7, is clearly not resolved. Instead, its ninth is, in a very concrete manner, transferred to the upper voice of the ensuing chord; see Example 4. As demonstrated by broken lines in Example 4b, the 4/3 on F is in its entirety formed by the four upper voices of the preceding 9/7, altering B to Bb--a most unusual foreground event suggesting that instead of being resolved, the dissonances offer a starting point for subsequent events.

[15] Incidentally, I would also suggest that there are significant aspects which make the V9/7 itself a special chord type and more than an arbitrary dissonance. First, Schumann had a certain predilection for this chord--which in his usage is often (as in the present case) conceivable as a superimposition of V and II. Second, such chords, emancipated from their dominant function, assumed an even more independent status in the music of Debussy and his generation--including, to some extent, Sibelius. Third, such a historical development is, I would suggest, influenced by the way in which the chord approximates the harmonic series: f2 and a2 correspond to harmonics 7 and 9 of G. Hence, even though the V9/7 is dissonant in the syntax of conventional tonality, its tendency to assume a more stable or independent role may have a (psycho)acoustical basis.(6)

[16] Returning to Example 5b, the 4/3 chord on F (m. 29) is an important element in triggering a descending motion in parallel tenths but does not occupy a high status in this motion. The subsequent Eb major (m. 33), D minor (m. 41), and C major (m. 61) chords are supported by stability and salience alike. Each marks a clear-cut change in design. The indicated framework is also supported by registral consistency and by the parallel use of introductory secondary dominants (see brackets). Moreover, a point I would emphasize is that the large-scale framework is not only an abstract skeleton but its aural significance is enhanced by the correspondence with small-scale events. The long-range top-voice line A2-G2-F2-E2-D2 replicates a primary foreground motive occuring at its framing points.(7) In addition, Example 5c illustrates several foreground occurrences of the beginning of this line, A-G-F, and its variant, Ab-G-F, anticipating and confirming the corresponding long-range event. In the realm of harmony, the important V-II relationship (mm. 1, 41) reflects the superimposition of these degrees in the opening harmony.

[17] While the justification for the choice of the framework points in Example 5b seems clear and conclusive, the internal hierarchy within this framework--especially with respect to the D and C basses--is a more difficult issue that I will leave open in this provisional reading. Two alternative interpretations are sketched in Example 5d. As regards thematic design, both D (m. 41) and C (m. 61) are highlighted by similar material, evoking the keys of D minor and F major, respectively. In the recapitulation, the D minor passage is transposed to C minor, parallel of the home key. For these reasons, it would seem more natural to locate the beginning of the "second group" at the D (m. 41) than at the C (m. 61), as in Jackson's graph (Example 5a).


Limits of Prolongational Thinking?

[18] Although I think that Jackson's attempts to view the tonics in the Beethoven and Schumann examples (Example 2, m. 12; Example 3, m. 134) as subordinate to another scale degree (IV and bVI, respectively) are equally mistaken, there is a significant difference to be observed between these examples. In the Schumann, I find it much easier to sympathize with the notion that the tonic in question, i.e., the one in the Im Legendenton episode, does not yet constitute its "definitive arrival." Such an impression, moreover, does partly stem from the tonic's occurrence "in the wrong mode, minor instead of major." Nevertheless, I cannot think of any convincing way to explain this by conceiving of the tonic as subordinate to another harmony in a prolongational hierarchy (certainly not to a subdominant). Perhaps we may take this as a healthy reminder that even the most fruitful analytical notions are not without limitations. Even if the Schenkerian notion of hierarchically-organized, temporally-continuous prolongational spans has done much to illuminate the organization of tonal music, important aspects lie outside its scope. It would appear that the distortions in Jackson's readings partly result from the neglect of this, that is to say, from a misguided striving to view large-scale organization in terms of overarching prolongational structures, as if other aspects of organization could not cooperate in creating a meaningful whole. In the Fantasy, in particular, there is a strong sense of discontinuous relationships assuming unusually vital importance. I do not claim to know what kind of theoretical model would best account for the minor tonic between two extended dominant prolongations that appear connected. Perhaps it could be understood as a parenthetical element--a notion employed in Edward Laufer's analysis of Sibelius's Seventh Symphony, as discussed below.

[19] In this connection--to get finally closer to Sibelius--I would also question whether a harmonic event such as the auxiliary cadence is the only or even the most pertinent musical metaphor of "crystallization." In introducing this concept, Jackson appeals to Sibelius's description of the finale of his Third Symphony as "the crystallization of the idea from chaos" (175).(8) In my view, an "idea" would seem to refer to the thematic-motivic rather than the harmonic-prolongational aspect of organization. The auxiliary cadence certainly involves an effect of harmonic clarification, or "starting at some less definite place and moving toward the point of tonic arrival," as Edward Laufer put it in his analysis of Sibelius's Fourth Symphony in Schenker Studies 2.(9) However, thematic crystallization needs also be recognized as a primary form-defining resource in Sibelius's music--not only the Third Symphony--without any necessary connection with some harmonic progression. If these considerations bring to mind Schenker's polemical distinction between "fundamental structure" composers and "idea" composers, I would suggest that it is hardly among those of his notions that we should be loyal to.(10) For Sibelius, at least, both aspects are of paramount importance.

[20] I will mention only a few examples showing that the reliability of Jackson's analyses by no means improves when proceeding from the tonal tradition to Sibelius. Lemminkäinen's Return poses an analytical problem comparable with the Schumann: it contains an episode in Eb minor (m. 243 ff.) which, admittedly, appears as less "decisive" than the eventual Eb major tonic. Most certainly, however, this cannot be explained by conceiving of the Eb minor as subordinate to a B-natural supporting a 6/3 (B-D-G) in m. 365, as indicated by Jackson's graph (Ex. 8.15a). First, there is no 6/3 but 6/4 (B-E-G) in the score. Second, a root-position Eb minor triad as subordinate to such a 6/4 seems an inherently unlikely relationship. Third, in its context, the 6/4 is readily understood as a local neighbor to the dominant Bb7 (m. 367)--an interesting and idiosyncratic foreground feature having its roots in m. 67. One general peculiarity in Jackson's arguments concerns the impact of duration for structure. Frequently he appeals to the short duration of the tonic when arguing for its subordinate structural status. However, brevity does not prevent other harmonies from gaining structural weight. One extreme example is given by the finale of the Third Symphony, in which Jackson sees the dominant as governing for the first 245 measures (Ex. 8.19), even though the opening dominant resolves straightforwardly to the tonic in m. 4, followed by a tonic pedal (with little digressions) until m. 41, and also nothing in the subsequent material suggests a connection with the dominant. Hence, while it is in itself reasonable to regard duration as one of the salience conditions, this condition is inconsistently applied by Jackson. In fact, I find no other way to account for many of his analytical decisions than presuming an unstated "negative" scale-degree condition or preference rule: "Strongly prefer any other scale-degree as superior to the tonic--unless it is the last tonic in the piece." In the Seventh Symphony, Jackson argues that the root-position tonic in mm. 60-67 is subordinate to the I6 in mm. 82-83 on the grounds that "the definitive achievement of the primary tone ^5" occurs above the latter (266)--certainly a criterion whose adoption would revolutionize all Schenkerian practices thus far (consider, e.g., Mozart's Sonata in A major, KV. 331, m. 1). Jackson sees, however, nothing worth discussing in his analytical criterion but speaks of "an odd way of composing, 'placing the cart before the horse'," (ibid.). This is one of the instances in which unintentional humor is produced by equating the properties of analysis with those of composition.

[21] All in all, despite the impressive scope of issues raised by Jackson, the grounds for his analytical readings are so shaky that the conclusions from these readings have little worth in illuminating such issues. And while the project of illuminating Sibelius's music analytically is very welcome, it is regrettable that the editors of Sibelius Studies showed such a lack of judgment as to assign a lion's share of the book to such untenable material. Perhaps one might find the raising of important issues as something of a merit in itself. One certainly hopes that Jackson's article would inspire or provoke more competent analytical work viewing the historical evolution of symphonic music from a structural perspective.

Considerations of Multikey Schemes

[22] The auxiliary cadence warrants consideration also as the basis for explaining tonal organization in pieces that begin and end in a different key. Despite convincing exemplars of such an explanation, starting from Schenker himself, there is no justification for applying it automatically to all multikey schemes (as seems to be Jackson's practice).(11) The interpretation of an entire movement or composition in terms of a unified, end-oriented harmonic progression is a complex analytical statement that requires specific factors to support it. Regarding such factors, I would, once again, emphasize the significance of foreground for understanding background. If foreground motives or harmonic details are heard as pointing to or "striving for" the final tonic prior to its decisive arrival, this arrival will be more readily experienced as a tonal goal having an "organic" connection with the beginning. Such interrelationships across levels are the more essential the more complex the overall progression is and the more time it takes to get to the final tonic. Two Chopin examples illustrate this. In a short piece such as the Prelude op. 28 no. 2, the simple V-I relationship will "make sense" even though the opening motives in no way point to the eventual A minor tonic (but rather to the keys of the subsequent preludes, interestingly enough).(12) On the other hand, the more complex progression VI-V-I spanning most of the Fantasy op. 49 gains essential support from foreground elements that refer to the relationship between the opening F minor and the final Ab major. As pointed out by Carl Schachter, the major second formed by the pitches separating F-minor from the Ab-major triad, F-Eb, plays an important motivic role right from the start.(13)

[23] These considerations bear interestingly on Sibelius's music and its analysis. Two significant works, Lemminkäinen's Return and Pohjola's Daughter progress from minor to relative major as does Chopin's Fantasy. Moreover, just as in the Chopin, the whole-tone emblematic of the key change, ^1-^7 in the minor or ^6-^5 in the major, features as an important foreground element in both works--one token of their "richness of interconnectedness," to quote Adorno's expression. These relationships are observed by Jackson concerning Lemminkäinen's Return (219) and by Timo Virtanen in his special chapter on Pohjola's Daughter (169). In these works, viewing the key relationships in terms of end-oriented progressions seems concordant with their musical effect and also with the programmatic content of "homeward journey." However, these progressions may not be literally auxiliary cadences since there is no dominant linking the VI and the I--unless the first occurrence of the latter is regarded as non-structural.

[24] Virtanen's and Jackson's readings of Pohjola's Daughter contrast in this respect. Virtanen views the arrival at the Bb major tonic as marked by the "heroic theme" in m. 53 (169, Ex. 7.5), while Jackson (characteristically enough) locates the "DTA" only in the final measure 257, preceded by V in m. 243 (Ex. 8.16). According to the former reading, the VI (G minor) connects directly to I (Bb major) through a neighboring relationship--a case comparable to Chopin's Scherzo op. 31, as analyzed by Schenker.(14) To me, Virtanen's reading seems more plausible. Jackson's contention that the earlier Bb arrivals "are devalued […] by the hegemony of the G minor-major prolongation" (220) lacks substantiation by any special features that would fortify that "hegemony" by pointing specifically to G after the opening (such as a dividing dominant or an emphatic return). Intuitively, moreover, the "heroic theme" seems a more likely candidate of something "crystallized" or "definitive" than the closing unison G-A-Bb --a rather shadowy reminder of the G-Bb relationship. (In this case, thematic crystallization and tonal clarification seem to be in synchrony.) The first occurrence of Bb is abruptly interrupted by tonally distant material in m. 57 but even if this in some sense undermines the "definiteness" of the tonic, such an effect may have nothing to do with a lower status in a prolongational structure. It would seem that extra-musical considerations are essential for explaining this abrupt shift: programmatically the passage depicts the sudden apparition of Pohjola's daughter on the rainbow to interrupt Väinämöinen's (the male hero's) journey.

[25] Virtanen's discussion on the relationship between the program and the musical structure is illuminating and nuanced. However, the informative value and persuasiveness of his analysis, too, would have profited from a closer consideration of details; his graphs only show the background and deep middleground levels (Ex. 7.5). As will be discussed below, there are quite nontraditional aspects in the compositional technique of Pohjola's Daughter and it would have been worthwhile to flesh out whether and how such aspects can be related to a linear construct emerging from the tonal tradition such as the Ursatz. Having said this, I have to add that the pacing and weighting of structural events in Virtanen's analysis appears by no means counterintuitive. To be fair, it should also be observed that Virtanen's focus is not only on analysis but on sketch studies as well.

[26] That multikey schemes cannot always be so convincingly explained as embodying a unified, end-oriented harmonic progression is exemplified by the symphonic ballad The Wood Nymph (Skogsrået)--an early work (1895) recently "rediscovered" with great public attention after over half a century with few performances. Its lack of clear tonal orientation is reflected in the two readings of this composition in Sibelius Studies. Whereas Jackson sees the piece as embodying a #VII-bII-V-I progression in the final C# minor (215 ff.), Veijo Murtomäki, in his special chapter on The Wood Nymph, views it as progressing from I to bIIn [n = natural] in the opening C major (Ex. 6.1). (The "bIIn" in Murtomäki's analysis is illogical since C# minor is either #I or, enharmonically, bIIb , in C major.) It is not easy to see how one or the other of these interpretations would have greater merit in illuminating the organization. In fact, there may be little grounds for viewing the key succession in terms of an overarching harmonic progression in the first place. To listeners such as myself, The Wood Nymph makes the impression of a loosely interwoven series of more or less improvisatory mood depictions, rather than a unified composition with a pervasive harmonic organization. Attempts to posit such organization may be attempts to make the piece something more than it is.(15) This impression of The Wood Nymph is well in accordance with the view held by earlier scholars--and even confirmed by Sibelius himself--that the orchestral ballad was rather quickly written on the basis of a melodrama with the same title comprising four separate episodes (accompaniment to a poem by Viktor Rydberg). This order of composition between the two versions of The Wood Nymph is contested by Murtomäki (100-1), but, in my view, it would readily explain the character of the ballad. Be the compositional history of The Wood Nymph as it may, it is not easy to find musical factors that would support conceiving it as a unified harmonic progression. The progression would be complex and take a long time but gain hardly any support from correspondence with lower-level organization. In fact, The Wood Nymph is characterized not only by the lack of details reflecting the large-scale organization but by a certain poverty of details in general. In my view, its lengthy monotonous passages are actually more suitable for the accompaniment of poetry than for listening by itself.

[27] (In this connection I would suggest that while the distinction between absolute and programmatic music is not clear-cut, a relative distinction remains essential for understanding Sibelius. For the symphonies, one could perhaps, at best, invent programmatic interpretations--Jackson attempts this--that are concordant with the musical experience but would add nothing essential to it. For the symphonic poems and Pohjola's Daughter--a "Symphonic Fantasy"--programmatic considerations may considerably illuminate passages that otherwise seem strange. Finally, a melodrama-based work such as The Wood Nymph makes little sense without knowing the program depicted in the poem.)

[28] These considerations bear on the evaluation of the aesthetic quality and the recent reception of The Wood Nymph. Murtomäki begins his article: "The performance in 1996 of […] Skogsrået […] was a sensation. It was clear that the orchestral ballad was a masterpiece whose inclusion in the canon of Sibelius's major orchestral works would decisively change our view of the composer." (95.) However, to me at least, the masterpiece quality of The Wood Nymph remains unclear. As important as it is to recognize that the Adornian virtues, "the richness of inter-connectedness" and "unity in diversity," actually became hallmarks of Sibelius's more mature symphonic works, it is just as vain, I am afraid, to search for them in The Wood Nymph. Ultimately, Murtomäki comes close to my view as he writes: "as a whole, Skogsrået is not a highly unified organism like Sibelius's subsequent large orchestral works" (123). Further, "when he [Sibelius] does try to bridge the gap between sections with a true transition […], the result is only partially satisfying" (ibid.). To justify his initial praise, he appeals to genre: "the 'profound logic' [Sibelius's expression] and close thematic interconnectedness characteristic of the symphony was [sic] not required of the ballad" (ibid.). Such a contention is, of course, legitimate. Analytical considerations cannot prove or disprove whether the Adornian virtues--or the "profound logic" which later became a characteristically Sibelian virtue--are prerequisites for a "masterpiece." Nevertheless, against Murtomäki's praise I suppose I have an equal right to assert that the inclusion of The Wood Nymph "in the canon of Sibelius's major orchestral works," on a par with his symphonies, the mature symphonic poems, or even the Lemminkäinen legends, would confuse rather than promote a sound view of Sibelius's accomplishment. I find less reason to wonder "why should a major work like Skogsrået have languished unperformed for decades" (95) than to ponder the state of a music culture in which sensations are so much more readily made from the lesser works of established masters than from more interesting music by more recent composers. (All this is not to deny the musicological and biographical interest of The Wood Nymph or a certain charm of some of its episodes.)

Laufer's Case Study: Inspiration and Realism

[29] What may be regarded as the most substantial analytical contribution in Sibelius Studies is its final chapter, Edward Laufer's "Continuity and design in the Seventh Symphony." While Laufer's aims are more modest than Jackson's, the discussion of the musical material in a single one-movement piece, he accomplishes immeasurably more by the careful and insightful consideration of that material. The complexities in this symphony are formidable; neither the composition nor the unraveling of them is a small feat. And even if we are ultimately to aim at more comprehensive historical comparisons, they become possible only after such careful case studies.

[30] The inclusion of Laufer's analysis in Sibelius Studies is welcome for promoting both Sibelius among Schenkerians and Schenker among Sibelians. Sibelius Studies is a book likely to have readers with little previous experience in Schenkerian analysis. In such readers, Jackson's paper may create the impression of "Schenkerianism" as an approach drawing its conclusions from abstract large-scale relationships between more or less arbitrarily chosen notes, with no substantiation in the concrete "surface" material or in the principles of tonal syntax. Laufer's study is appropriate to dispel any such impression. His attention to "surface" is amply manifest in the meticulous foreground graphs that pervasively accompany the large-scale readings.

[31] Laufer's analysis combines inspiration with realism. To the intuitions of Sibelians, Adorno's charges of "senseless juxtaposition" have never made much sense, but it is a joy to encounter such a thorough analytical rationalization of such intuitions (spiced, characteristically, with frequent exclamations of admiration). As for Schenkerian analysis, it would seem that Laufer's experience with this approach has yielded, aside from the admirable command of it, a realistic view of its explanatory scope. One is almost surprised by the share of "non-Schenkerian" observations in his paper, that is to say, motivic and other surface relationships not supported by any parallelism in the voice-leading structure. I feel tempted to say that, pace Schenker, Laufer values the fundamental structure less for its own sake than for the substratum it offers for the development of ideas.

[32] After Jackson's obsession with tonic devaluation, it was something of a relief to see several genuine tonics within the overall organization. What should be observed, however, is the nuanced way Laufer discusses a variety of tonic and tonic-like effects. There are, naturally, non-structural "tonics," subordinate to another harmony--but even such a harmony may suggest "the sound (but not the meaning) of the tonic" (372). If such subordination is not the case, a tonic may function in "a parenthetical insertion within the larger musical direction--as if two interpretations, the continuous and the discontinuous, were superimposed." (376.) The interaction of tonal-harmonic functions with modal and thematic features is lucidly captured in Laufer's description of the effect of "main section II," (m. 222 ff.). Although the tonic is here neither non-structural nor parenthetical, "in terms of the larger formal plan, this section is transitory […] The 'wrong' notes of the minor mode imply this, as does the incomplete presentation of the main theme[…]." (372) Modal and thematic aspects have thus an essential function in the music without altering the harmonic function. This suggests a picture of the overall organization based on several interacting aspects or "parameters" rather than on a single all-encompassing one--at once a richer and more realistic picture, in my view.

[33] In general, Laufer's readings are cogent and revealing. While he makes few references to the previous analytical work on the Seventh Symphony, its future analysts would do well to consult Laufer's paper. At points, alternative interpretations come to mind (which, of course, is nothing that could or should be avoided). Some of these concern apparent repetitions of similar material which Laufer interprets in radically deviant ways. I do not wish to suggest that he does not have grounds for such deviations. Nevertheless, I think that for the majority of readers such grounds are not evident and these readers would have gained from making them evident. (If such discussion was omitted for reasons of space, this makes the "self-generous" editorial policy all the more regrettable.) One such instance occurs in the climax of "main section I," shown as score reduction in Example 6a. Example 6b aligns Laufer's reading (from his Ex. 12.2.4) with the score. The passage in mm. 84-86 is a varied transposition of mm. 80-82, but Laufer interprets it quite differently; see brackets. In m. 80, he shows the outer-voice Bs in the unaccented 6/4 chord as passing, while in m. 84 the corresponding Gs assume structural importance. Example 6c shows one possible way to view these passages in a more analogous way. Significantly, this reading would not affect the wider consequences of Laufer's analysis.

[34] Perhaps the most surprising detail in Laufer's reading is, however, the high status of the bass C in m. 80, shown as supporting the top-voice G. The preceding Bb is described by Laufer as "technically a lower neighbor note" (378, n. 10). In this one detail, I would actually question the structural status of a tonic in Laufer's analysis. In view of the preceding E minor tonicization, I find it natural to hear the Bb bass as an A# supporting an "inverted German 6th" or #IV7, as indicated in Example 6c. The C in m. 80 would then prolong that harmony before arriving at B, the V of E minor, in m. 81--a bass tone not shown at all in Laufer's otherwise meticulous graph. The bass line A#-B-C-B produces an additional occurrence of the turn-figure, a central motivic element in the symphony, as observed by Laufer and others before him. In this reading, the structural bass C is reached only at the end of m. 81 (a point underlined by a timpani roll among other things), through a progression which from the E minor perspective sounds like a deceptive cadence. The E minor implications might also speak for a somewhat higher status for the E bass in mm. 82-83. Example 6d is a very tentative sketch of the underlying progression in mm. 60-82. Significantly, the E minor implications are later realized with utmost force in the recapitulation of this section (m. 495).(16)

Aspects of Modernism

[35] The less conventional features in Sibelius's music include both those related to the general trends of contemporary modernism and those whose cultivation belonged more specifically to his personal style--but which might, to some extent, be seen as adumbrating some later trends. The former group contains aspects such as modal/scalar/pc-set material, motivic organization, and harmonic usages. In Sibelius Studies, the mode/scale/pc-set issue is focused on by Elliot Antokoletz, who examines the interaction of different diatonic and cyclic-interval (whole-tone and octatonic) resources in the Fourth Symphony, drawing a parallel with composers such as Bartók and Stravinsky (297). A central concern for motivic relationships is a trait Sibelius shares with several of his contemporaries. In Sibelius Studies, the most comprehensive motivic study is Laufer's analysis of the Seventh Symphony; however, in accordance with the work itself, this study is less pertinent to the role of motives in modernism. Laufer's basic figures are "rather unassuming" (358) common diatonic figures: intervals, scalar fillings, and turns; only the careful consideration of their moment-by-moment transformation substantiates their work-specific significance. That the Symphony grows out of such material tells much about its special character as an essay on diatonicism (not only in but on C major). The tonally more radical Fourth Symphony might have been cited also as an example based on more "high profile" or individual motives, which, rather than arising from a traditional tonal substratum, assume an active role in influencing tonal relationships. The way in which work-specific motivic forces partly substitute for tonal forces as agents of coherence suggests a point of contact with Schoenbergian thought. Incidentally, it is partly thanks to such "high profile" motivic work that Sibelius remained as an important source of influence for the symphonic work of dodecaphonists of later generations such as Joonas Kokkonen and Paavo Heininen--music little known outside Finland but, in my view, much more worth listening to and promoting than pieces such as The Wood Nymph.

[36] Regarding Sibelius's harmonic usages and their relationship with the trends of early 20th-century music, I will discuss only one passage from the Seventh Symphony (mm. 107-49). Laufer observes the use of "characteristic Sibelian ninth-chord sonorities" in mm. 115-8, adding that "[t]hese are only apparent ninth chords"; they are brought forth by "rhythmic shifts […] indicated by slanted lines in the sketch" (365); Example 7a gathers information from several of Laufer's graphs (Exs. 12.9.3, 12.10.3, and 12.12.6; the glissando signs in Example 7a stand for omitted scalar fillings). These "ninth-chord sonorities" are of the type discussed in connection with Schumann's Fantasy; their registration corresponds more or less closely to the harmonic series. In fact, this sonority is introduced already in m. 95 alongside the thematic material that it pervasively accompanies. What is perhaps the most characteristically Sibelian feature in this usage is the lower-fifth relationship between the bass and the minor mode (ascending melodic) suggested by the melody. (In m. 95 there is a superimposition of IV and i rather than V and ii as in the Schumann.) That such a device was consciously employed by Sibelius is implied by a lecture he gave as early as 1896.

[37] Laufer's interpretation implies that ninths are assumed to have their conventional status as dissonances. Such an assumption is by no means implausible since other parts of the symphony show clear 9-8 resolutions. Significantly, however, in mm. 107-47 the harmonic organization may be described as based entirely on transpositions of this ninth chord--before the dramatic arrival in mm. 148-9 at a rhythmically varied repetition of earlier material (mm. 88-89). Such an extended prevalence suggests considering this chord as something more than "apparent." Example 7b shows an alternative reading based on the assumption that the ninth is momentarily "emancipated" from its dissonant status to become structurally supportive. This reading shows a much simpler relationship with the actual events and their articulation. In mm. 107-133 the bass traverses from C to C through a descending whole-tone scale, articulated in two parallel halves, C-F# and F#-C. This parallelism is more clearly reflected in Example 7b. This Example views the F# as a prominent neighbor of G, a function also evident at the foreground in the framing points of the progression (mm. 107, 133; small notes in Example 7b). (The great-octave Db that Laufer shows in m. 119 without parentheses does not actually occur at that point, another rare exception to his carefulness.) In the top voice, again, the parallelism between the descending thirds D-C-Bb (mm. 115-7) and G#-F#-E (128-30) is only evident in Example 7b; these third-progressions may be viewed as horizontalizations of an interval (ninth-seventh) in the harmonies on C and F#. Further, in mm. 133-49, the assumption of the structural status of the ninth chord would justify a higher status for the Eb (m. 143), a status also supported by its registral placement (in m. 146). The bass line C-Eb-(F)-G in Example 7b has a closer relationship with the concrete material than Laufer's C-Bb-Ab-G, in which the Ab does not actually occur.(17)

[38] It should be noted that this kind of use of parallel ninth chords was by no means innovative in 1924 when the Seventh Symphony was completed. Similar techniques were employed by composers such as Debussy and Scriabin some two decades earlier. The analytical problem of the extent to which the triadic norms of consonance etc. can be assumed to underlie linear progressions in music that momentarily appear to manifest another kind of consistent organization has relevance for a large body of early 20th-century music.

[39] Among the unconventional Sibelian features that are less closely connected with general contemporary trends, we may identify aspects of Satztechnik and form. By Satztechnik I refer generally to the basic harmonic and contrapuntal principles underlying the formation of surface textures, which, in the tonal tradition, include outer-voice counterpoint, thorough bass, and I-V polarity. Sibelius's music is, at times, far removed from these principles, even when the scalar material is diatonic and in that respect makes a less "modern" impression. This kind of nontraditionalism is essential for understanding Adorno's characterization of Sibelius: "'themes,' some completely unplastic and trivial successions of pitches, are put forth, most of the time never once harmonized, instead unisono with organ points, stationary harmonies and whatever else the five-line staff will produce in order to avoid logical harmonic progression" (cited in xviii). Hence, to Adorno and his followers, Sibelius was nontraditional in a wrong way--but, to be sure, Adorno's negative aesthetic judgement is invalidated by his inability to perceive and appreciate the compensating accomplishments in aspects such as multi-level motivic relationships and novel temporal effects.

[40] As a demonstrative example of Sibelius's nontraditional Satztechnik, one may consult the opening of Pohjola's Daughter. As described by Virtanen, "the center of gravity is shifted almost imperceptibly from the G minor to the Bb major, and without traditional modulatory procedures" (169). In the first fifty or so measures (or in most of the subsequent material, for that matter) one finds no single event that could be called a conventional chord succession; instead there is a more or less "amorphous" harmonic framework for complex motivic elaboration and for the gradual shift of tonal focus.

[41] The nontraditional features of Satztechnik have important ramifications for analysis. If the traditional principles of Satz do not prevail, we may ask how this should be allowed for in applying a method deeply rooted in these principles such as Schenkerian analysis. This issue is not systematically discussed by Schenkerians in Sibelius Studies, although Laufer does point out characteristically Sibelian practices of ellipsis, shifts, anticipations and the like, relating thus the apparently nontraditional with the traditional.(18) However, as with the ninth chords discussed above, there is reason to ask where we should place the borderline between "apparent" and "real" nontraditionalism, in other words, at what point we gain a better insight of the music by treating the previously exceptional as having become normative. Since Sibelius never totally abandonded traditional means, a double perspective is, generally speaking, recommendable. To cite one example, Laufer reads an evaded II6/5-V-I cadence in m. 92 of the Seventh Symphony, showing a non-existent G (V) in parentheses (Ex. 12.2). On the one hand, such a reading is informative since it points out the "conspicuous absence" of the dominant, which at other crucial points of the symphony still plays a primary role. On the other hand, progressions avoiding the dominant occur frequently in Sibelius and it might be desirable to try to find alternative explanations for such progressions, based on what is present rather than what is absent.

[42] Form is often considered as the main progressive aspect in Sibelius's music. The conventional wisdom--at least here in Finland--is that while Sibelius after the Fourth Symphony ceased to follow the general trends of contemporary modernism with respect to pitch material, this was compensated for by the ongoing cultivation of innovative formal language. This contrasts with Schoenberg's music, in which, to cite the editors, "conservatism in rhythmic and formal dimensions sometimes counterbalances radicalism in the post-tonal harmonic language" (xv). Against these considerations, the treatment of form in Sibelius Studies is, at times, something of a disappointment. The description of form is often based on traditional schemes such as sonata form, rondo, and, in Jackson's paper, "super-sonata," even when matching Sibelius's imaginative treatment of form would require more imaginative analysis. For example, Antokoletz's description of the third movement, Il tempo largo, of the Fourth Symphony as a "sonata allegro" (313) seems rather insensitive to its essential features in both the thematic and the tonal-harmonic respect. I would cite this movement as one in which Sibelius is at the height of his powers with respect to progressive pitch material, motivic concentration, as well as formal originality (to say nothing about emotional depth)--properties that make it, in my view, one of the greatest accomplishments not only in Sibelius's output but in twentieth-century music in general. Its form may be described as an archetypal exemplification of thematic crystallization: melodic "well-shapedness" is employed as a key "parameter" that reaches its apex near the end (mm. 82-87). Such a view of its form is by no means my contribution but represents "conventional wisdom." Perhaps, however, such "wisdom" is less self-evident for the international readership; therefore more comprehensive discussion on Sibelius's characteristic formal practices--from small to overall scale--might not have been out of place in a book like Sibelius Studies.

[43] Two essays in Sibelius Studies deal expressly with aspects of form. In accordance with the above considerations, Tim Howell's "'Sibelius the Progressive'" cites "Sibelius's control of musical time scale" as "perhaps the single most progressive aspect of his compositional technique" (55). He suggests parallels between the "forward-looking characteristics of Tapiola" (ibid.) and the "manipulation of sound masses in the music of Ligeti" (56) and "comparisons between the formal processes of the Seventh Symphony and Elliot Carter's Concerto for Orchestra" (ibid.). The "amorphous" qualities of Satztechnik pointed out above may also be seen as distantly related with "sound masses." However, even if there is some resemblance between Sibelius's nontraditionalism and the above-mentioned avant-garde trends of the 1960s, this is hardly based on an influential relationship. The outspoken avant-garde admirers of Sibelius mentioned by Howell represent more recent decades. On the other hand, more conscious influence of Sibelian formal thinking could be found in the music of Finnish modernists--such as those mentioned above.

[44] More specified notions for the treatment of form in Sibelius are set forth by James Hepokoski. In his interesting discussion, Hepokoski recognizes Sibelius's conscious "shift away from traditional Formenlehre structures" (322) and offers the concepts of rotational form and teleological genesis for coping with characteristically Sibelian procedures. Rotational form means "a structural process within which a basic thematic or rhetoric pattern […] is subsequently treated to a series of immediate, though often substantially varied, repetitions." (325.) Teleological genesis, "the gradual production and shaping of a cumulative goal (telos)," (327) corresponds more or less closely to what I have called "thematic crystallization."

[45] There is no doubt that these concepts are productive in Sibelius analysis. However, while Hepokoski's application of them to the finale of the Sixth Symphony is illuminating, some questions might be stated as to what actually distinguishes a rotation from a non-rotation, in other words, as to the relative importance of elements suggesting repetition, on the one hand, and contrast, on the other. As pointed out by Hepokoski, the opening motives, i.e., those in Rotation 1 (mm. 1-16), "supply most of the raw materials for the peak moment, although they are not yet sounded in telos order" (341); this order is only achieved in Rotation 3 (mm. 55-82). However, if the order of elements is changed, one may wonder the extent to which one can still speak of a repeated "rhetoric pattern." On the other hand, the closing Rotation 9, "one of whose points is to demonstrate the valedictory abandonment of the rotational principle altogether" (349), bears a slightly closer relationship with previous material than Hepokoski assumes. As observed by him, "the concluding portion of Rotation 8 (mm. 205-20) functions as a rhetorical (not a tonal) reprise of the whole of Rotation 1 […]" (ibid.). Further, "reprises in general, we might suppose, have a built-in drive to continue"; hence "we might suppose that the reprise in Rotation 8 would lead to the same figure at the onset of Rotation 9" (ibid.) as that having occurred in Rotation 2. And this, precisely, happens in a clearer manner than Hepokoski observes. Whereas he points out a "free inversion" relationship between the top voices in the passages in question, the entire material of the opening phrase of Rotation 2 occurs in a slightly varied original form in the lower strings in Rotation 9, as illustrated by the vertical alignment of these passages in Example 8.(19) Moreover, the transpositional level of this material, the lower fifth, is the same as in Rotation 8 in relation to 1; this enhances the sense in which Rotations 1-2 and 8-9 (or, to be precise, parts thereof) can be understood as holding a "macro-rotational" relationship. All this is not to deny the merits of Hepokoski's fresh formal view but to suggest that in the present case the connection between the framing sections, on the one hand, and the contrast of the central section, on the other, are slightly stronger than his rotational conception might give us to understand.

[46] Finally it should be stated that the present review is not meant as a balanced overview of Sibelius Studies, but as a commentary on its main analytical and theoretical perspectives. In addition to such perspectives, those interested in Sibelius will find discussion on topics such as semiotics, discography, programmatic and biographic issues, incidental music, sketch studies, and metrical revisions. And while the editors are to be criticized for how they have chosen and weighted their analytical material, we may thank them for having compiled this book in the first place to offer some kind of picture of the present state of Sibelius research.(20)

Olli Väisälä
Sibelius Academy
PL 86
00251 Helsinki

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